Americans Protest at GOP Town Hall Meetings Across the Country
Angry constituents make their views known to congressional members
The Progressive Teen Staff Writer
AS REPUBLICANS ATTEMPT TO FULFILL THEIR PROMISE to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Americans, anxious about the future of their health care, are showing up in large crowds to protest. Republican congressional members saw these demonstrations firsthand at their scheduled town hall meetings during the first recess of the 115th Congress. Constituents booed, shouting comments such as, “What’s the plan?” and asked a variety of tough questions to Republicans.
Demonstrators showed their anger about a variety of other issues, including Trump’s immigration ban, his plans to build a wall, and a lack of investigation into Russia’s possible involvement in the election. This anger was seen all over the country, including deep red states, like Kentucky and Iowa, with the Resistance Recess’ website stating that 100,000 people took part in the resistance.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, particularly faced large crowds with around 1,000 people protesting outside of a local, private event in his home state of Kentucky. Activists chanted “No ban, no wall, Mitch McConnell take our call.” Inside of the luncheon, McConnell received an arsenal of tough questions. He dodged questions about the deadly Yemen raid, a loss of coal jobs in Kentucky, and environmental regulations. Rather than answering questions, he thanked those who asked the questions for their “speeches.” Additionally, McConnell stated, “Why are they protesting? They didn’t like the results of the election,” adding that “winners make policy, losers go home.”
Republicans are not the only ones encountering protests; constituents are also showing up to Democratic congressional town hall meetings. These progressive activists are asking for complete and utter resistance from the Democratic party. A PAC called We Will Replace You is threatening to run against any Democrats who do not show that they are fully against Trump. Complete resistance of Trump would be, according to We Will Replace You’s website:
- Voting “no” on all Trump appointees and fighting all of Trump’s legislative priorities
- Fighting the unconstitutional Republican theft of a Supreme Court nomination
- Using congressional processes and rules of order to systematically bring all business to a crawl, effectively blocking Trump’s agenda, and demanding Steve Bannon be fired
- Publicly supporting impeachment if Trump is found to have broken the law or violated the Constitution
The PAC’s ultimate goal is to push incumbents into “fighting Trump with all they’ve got” and replacing those who don’t.
The collection of demonstrations that occurred during the first recess of the 115th Congress were part of the “Resistance Recess” organized by MoveOn.org. The Resistance Recess website allowed people to find congressional events near them, RSVP for the events, and send out reminder emails.
The president tried to dismiss the legitimacy of the protests by stating that they were planned by liberal activists. While this is true, the people involved were all real, impassioned Americans who wanted answers and for their opinions to be heard.
While some GOP members are claiming that the audiences were full of paid protestors, others argue that there is no evidence that these were professionals. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that “there is a bit of professional protester, manufactured base in there.” Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who saw the demonstrations directly, has a similar opinion, describing the demonstrations as paid attempts to bully.
As a result of the Resistance Recess, members of Congress dodged in-person meetings altogether, opting for conference calls or private meetings. According to VICE News, more than 200 Congressmen and women skipped February town hall meetings. Indivisible, a group of former congressional staffers, have released a guide on what to do when your local member of Congress is “missing,” or refusing to hold public events or talk to a particular group. The guide pushes people to draw attention to their “missing” Congressmen, which has resulted in missing person flyers as well as pictures of local members of Congress on milk cartons, billboards, and even candlelight vigils.
Other than the search for missing Congressmen, the Resistance Recess has had positive effects, especially in the fight for the Affordable Care Act. Republican Rep. Mo Brooks has said that these protests might prevent lawmakers from repealing the ACA. The resistance puts pressure on Congressmen and if the ACA is repealed, these politicians should be scared of the retaliation from the public that might risk their reelection.